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Secondary School Transition, EHCP and independent school provision?

Corrie January 26, 2023 19:36

Hi all. Its a long time since posting on this board since child adopted as a baby when I got lots of help. New user name.

It's lovely to see some old names. I wanted some advice really. As a background my child is in Y5 with EHCP that I had to fight for and fund back in Y2. Unique EHCP was what the LA SEND described it as. No LD, just trauma, anxiety and SPD. No behavioural difficulties but always below expectations for government guidelines but still only slightly.

No huge diagnosis and have good support from PAS.

Anyway now having to consider secondary school provision as SEND LA like to start discussion in Y5.He does not meet special school requirements for Social, emotional, behavioural schools and professional opinion is that it would traumatise him as he struggles with anxiety from children in his current school who have behavioural issues. His EHCP states he needs a small, nurturing holistic school which he currently has at a state primary. But no state schools that meet that requirement in secondary schools in our county.

We do have a number of small, independent, less academic schools that are suitable and are cheaper to the LA than cost of sending him to an unsuitable specialist school. But SEND are being incredibly unhelpful. I know it's going to tribunal because they just refuse everything that costs money.

Would anyone recommend fighting for funding for small independent school? Or compromise and nominate a number of non local but highly reccomended state schools that are large but have good SEN provision and PAS work with regularly and advise have good adoption trauma understanding?

Any advice greatly received.

Safia January 27, 2023 09:59

I don’t know anything about the particular choice you are facing as mine was between mainstream and special schools so advice I have is general. Try to visit a shortlist of schools - listening to the headteachers speech at their open evening and how they present themselves generally tells you a lot. For example hands on activities to involve the kids or lots of written information; is their emphasis on university places or outcomes more generally; what value do they seem to put on the subjects your child is most interested in (eg sport / art); do they show only the highest quality work or a range. Also I always visited learning support and also spoke to the SENCO and sometimes had to make a separate appointment to do so. The other day I came across a letter written by our PASW in support of the place we had chosen - I think I had written a draft at her request - outlining all the less obvious needs for an adopted child - trauma and attachment issues and how these might manifest themselves. So doing as much research as possible before choosing a school and gathering as much supporting information as you can to back up your choice. Our daughters EHCP did recommend mainstream - but they didn’t argue when we named an out of borough special school. They will try to get the cheaper option but don’t doubt yourself - you know best

chestnuttree January 27, 2023 19:16

My kids are now at a very nurturing small independent school, after truly awful experiences at a large state school. Years on we are still dealing with the fallout, so I would choose very carefully. Many adopters recommend large state schools, because they have more resources. That is not my experience. The huge secondary my kids went to had no resources and zero interest in children's mental health. There was no school psychologist, even though there was an epidemic of self-harm and a large group of children from difficult backgrounds. My kids' independent school has 4 full-time specialist members of staff for pastoral care (an ed psych, a councillor, etc).

I would talk to parents with SEN children at the school to find out the truth about the schools. I would ask, for instance, about self-harm rates and how many children identify as gender non-conforming. I would also ask if children tend to be street smart or present younger than their age, because adopted children tend to be less mature than their peers. Based on my experience, those are helpful indicators.

Have you seen this thread: Lots of helpful info on there.

This is a SEN questionnaire parent of children with autism in primary, but I think it might still be useful:


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